Hidden Costs of Bolivia

There was this annoying trend throughout Bolivia of extra hidden fees. Nothing too substantial – one or two Bolivianos here or there is only 15 or 30 cents – but it does make you feel like you’re being cheated a little bit.

We first noticed this upon entering Bolivia from Puno, Peru. We had already paid for the bus to get to Copacabana, but as we arrived in town we were told that it was 2 Bs per person to actually enter Copacabana. Um, what? First, why are you charging us to enter a town? Second, why wasn’t this included in the bus ticket? Third, why didn’t you tell us this sooner? Some people didn’t even have Bolivianos yet. No problem, they’ll accept 1 Peruvian Sole.

This happened again when we were leaving Copacabana. We got our bus tickets and were never told that we would have to pay another 2 Bs to cross the lake in the middle of the trip.

Plus there was that story about being left behind on Isla del Sol by an overly impatient boat that had been the cause of our being just a minute late to begin with. We would not have been surprised if this was a plan they devised on purpose just to get another 20 Bs out of us.

Then there’s the Salt Flat tour. We were warned this time about the extra 30 Bs for the Isla Incahuasi and 150 Bs to enter the park on our last day, both not included in the price of the tour, but then there was an additional 10 Bs for the group to have a table for lunch the first day, and 6 Bs to go in the hot springs. More minor costs that just were sprung on us in the moment. Also if you have to use a bathroom at any of the eating stops its 5 Bs; compared to the rest of Bolivia this felt like robbery.

Maybe this sounds like bitching – hell maybe it is, it is only change – but it’s more the principle of the thing. By the end of my time in Bolivia any new charge was not a surprise anymore. It was just how things worked there. So this is more of a warning to anyone who is planning on going to Bolivia: always have small Bolivianos on you, you never know when you’ll need them.


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